Universities of applied sciences – or shorter: UAS – are present in many European countries and are known by different names. UAS are higher education institutes with a special focus on applied training and research. UAS focus on two priorities:
- Delivering applied and practice-oriented tertiary education, which includes degrees with an explicit professional orientation
- Applied research and innovation, which encompasses problem-oriented research and development (R&D) activities
UAS place a strong emphasis on a deep entanglement of providing high-quality higher education, scientific research and social services, which translate into practical training, practical applications and practical innovation. In UAS, knowledge valorisation and practice-oriented scientific research is intertwined with the educational activities, such as labs, projects and, not the least, through internships and workplace learning. This professional orientation during their studies makes the UAS student a useful contributor to the labor market and increases the graduate’s working life and employability skills. In addition, UAS students from time to time also participate in practical research tasks that culminate in innovation projects, which teachers have agreed on with the employer. This provides a win-win situation for both UAS and the employer.
We see universities of applied sciences in five roles that demonstrate their value to European research and innovation:
- As regional connectors
Experts with the right connections which cooperate on a permanent basis in the region with traditional universities, SMEs, industry, civil society and local and regional authorities. UAS are at the core of regional development and are in constant contact with all the important stakeholders. They can respond quickly to regional and market needs.
- As key international players
Collaboration with people across borders, from all over Europe and from around the world. This ensures that UAS have a culture of openness and allows UAS to connect with a broad spectrum of contacts and networks. A genuine culture of sharing information and knowledge adds to the success of delivering projects with societal impact.
- As competent project leaders and evaluators for European programmes
The European UAS are already taking the lead in various multidisciplinary projects. As research actors they have the competence and capacity to lead even more European projects. The UAS’ applied researchers have unique skill sets, which can contribute to and complement the skills offered by traditional universities and industry researchers, for example as evaluators of EU-funded projects.
- As consulting bodies
Through their participation in discussions at the European and national levels, in advisory boards and in decision-making on calls for proposals in relevant fields of research and innovation.
- As contributors to European entrepreneurship
The European UAS are the key educators of entrepreneurs in their regions. In this way, they contribute to European growth and to more jobs. The work-related skills that UAS offer their students strongly enhance their students’ employability and professional innovation through project work and set the trend.